How a Device Used to Kill Humans Saved Penguins

Humans Saved Penguins By Trying to Kill Other Humans

Be honest: do you like penguins?

The answer is yes. You love penguins just like everyone else.

You’ve watched Happy Feet more times than your 11-year-old niece has sang “Let It Go” in the last 5 months. (Don’t worry, we won’t talk about how much you cried during March of the Penguins.)

Well, what would you and your penguin-loving friends say if I told you that humans placed close to 20,000 land mines  on the beaches of the Falkland Islands? Perhaps I should tell you that millions of penguins call the islands home.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you how that really isn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, these gruesome seeds of war may have actually saved the penguins from, you guessed it, humans. The Falklands’ reputation for penguin-based conflict began with whale oil.

Whale Oil for Energy

As everyone who has completed their whale oil handbook knows, rendering whale oil requires big vats and boiling water. This posed a problem to the European whalers in the area, as the Falklands don’t possess much in the way of trees for burning. They turned to something way, way out of left field: penguins. Penguins proved to be easily caught, and even better for fire because of their own fat layers.

How Bombs Saved Penguins on the Falkland Islands.
WE ARE NOT WOOD!

Now, in the year 2014, we don’t have much use for whale oiling. We find our relentless desire for power from other places like fossil fuels, the sun, and water.

War in the Falklands

With the fossil fuel discovery, so came a reprieve from penguins being used as tuxedoed pieces of firewood. The population began to grow in numbers, again, until Argentina’s government attempted to regain control over the islands from the hands of the British.

Those two combatants are less likely than a Mike Tyson – Evander Holyfield rematch, but combine political instability in Argentina with an aggressive no-dictator policy from one Margaret Thatcher, and you’ve got a 2 month conflict over the Falkland Islands.

When the tide went out the British remained victorious, but had a large military invoice show for a fairly lackluster piece of real estate.

To make the conflict worthwhile, the Falklands became an exclusive fishing zone. Our tux-wearing bird friends also eat fish. You can see where this is going.

Competition from human counterparts dropped the penguin population from 6 million to 1 million in just 10 years. So, humans contributed to this penguin downfall, but they’ve also saved the penguins.

Humans Saved Penguins

Remember those land mines we told you about?

The Argentinians left them all over the coast of the islands as British deterrent (we’ve found George Washington does a great job, too).

Thankfully, no humans have actually died from the estimated 20,000 left. Instead, these land mines protect the islands’ penguin inhabitants. The penguins are too light to set off the incredibly dangerous explosives, while humans and the 700,000+ sheep on the island will go… um… kaboom!

So, humans, what do we have to say for ourselves? Our best animal protection efforts happen out of trying to blow the legs off of each other. Thankfully, both Argentina and Great Britain are tentative about going back for the estimated 11 billion (that’s billion with a gigantic “B”) gallons of oil there. Maybe nukes will give the penguins an even better habitat, but don’t count on it.

Steve Spangler’s Kit of the Month Club – Summer Edition Perfect for Stopping Summer Learning Loss

The staff at Steve Spangler Science has a reputation for playing and having fun at our jobs. A requirement for working here is being a kid at heart.

When the boss is a big kid himself, you have to have a playful side to survive. We work hard and play just as hard at the Spangler Labs.

Kit of the Month Summer Edition from Steve Spangler Science

This helps when we are tasked with developing new ways to make science fun and get it into the hands of teachers, parents and kids. 

To add to the solution of stopping summer learning loss and finding engaging ways to bring parents and kids together, we came up with the Kit of the Month Club – Summer Edition.

Kit of the Month Club Summer Edition from Steve Spangler Science

In June, July and August you will receive a kit designed to spark Wow! moments as you and your children become mad scientists. These kits were developed by Steve Spangler himself to include the best STEM learning activities that will keep your kids focused all summer long.

June : Mad Scientist Lab – Color Mixing
July: Science of Electricity
August: Super Solar Science

Each kit will be delivered to your door and contain at least eight STEM and science activities (including one that involves the box itself) that will keep them busy and discovering. 

The kits come with enough materials for one child, but siblings can share or work together. If you want each child to individually do each activity, multiple kits should be ordered.

Why Should I Sign Up?

  • FREE shipping!
  • 3 Months of science adventures from Steve Spangler delivered to your door
  • Perfect for children ages 6-12
  • At least 8 hands-on science activities each month
  • Easy to understand step-by-step instructions
  • Access to an exclusive video lesson from Steve Spangler
  • Learn the real science behind each amazing experiment
  • Great resource for teachers, child care professionals and science enthusiasts
  • Individual kits not available to purchase anywhere
  • Make STEM learning fun!
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee

 

Education for Every Child Based on Their Individual Interests and Learning Needs

Let’s stop arguing and let teachers teach. 

As our public education system slips and slides down the international scale of standards and knowledge, our students and teachers are paying the price in a system run by fear and teaching to the test.

Let's Let Teachers Teach Every Student Based on Needs and Interests

What has happened to education in America?

A simple answer is politics. Instead of working together to improve a once solid system, we are becoming polarized in our political views of how education should be run.

Some believe education should run as a business. Money in, equals profit out. The profit in education is test scores and numbers, not how well our children are prepared for the workforce and their communities.

Every student is looked at as potential profit with potential return. Students who do not perform well on tests get left behind. Teachers no longer have time to work with struggling students. They must continue pumping out material so every student has an opportunity to succeed on the assessment. Those who fall behind must catch up on their own.

How we will find every child’s strengths and give them equal access to resources when we are too focused on measuring their success on paper?

Walter McKenzie, on The Whole Child Blog, says the current education system does not reference a choice or children -

  • Education is a public enterprise funded by taxpayers.
  • Government reports to taxpayers on its performance.
  • Elected officials craft policy and practice in the name of accountability.

McKenzie says our education system is being run as a “business that needs to produce numbers to justify the value.”

Some believe the way to “fix” education is to privatize it. This will allow the haves to continue to succeed and receive a strong education, while the have nots will continue to struggle to gain access to opportunities.

Others believe holding teachers and schools accountable is the right way to go. Put numbers to paper on how well each student is doing and that will rate the job of every teacher and in turn rate schools.

But what does this really do?

It takes away the individual strengths of each child, and lumps everyone into one pile – you get it or you don’t. Individual interests, ability and learning needs go out the window along with discovery and well rounded learning in an environment of fear. Educators teach in fear, students take assessments in fear.

Let’s stop the arguing and the fights over how to politically reform public education and refocus on our kids.

Focus on every single one of them and what makes them special and unique.

Let’s trust teachers make the decisions for each of their students in the classroom instead of making uneducated decisions in a courtroom. Teachers are the experts in education, not politicians.

We leave you with Silhouette Man and his opinions of American education…

Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today

Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today Silhouette Man - What is Wrong with Education Today

 

Reading, Observation, & Funky Times

 

books, reading, girl

When we read, we are doing far more than interpreting symbols on a page.  We are privileged.  We are invited guests.  We are peeking through windows, listening through keyholes, using context clues to figure out what’s going on in both familiar and unfamiliar environments.  Our ability to put things in order, in our minds, as we read and observe a writer’s thoughts about math, history, Victorian England, Hogwarts, Narnia, cooking, movies, music, parenting, government, politics, religion, nursery rhymes, nonsense, facts, fiction. . . . anything, really, corresponds with our ability to put things in order when things are standing before us in real life.  In many ways, books ARE real life, and any time we are privileged to share another person’s thoughts and opinions, we should also be analyzing environment, facts, opinions, books, reading, boyand actions, for all of these things, and many more, are what make up life.  And life, of course, can be lived in many different ways, according to the context of the moment.

Readers are observers, of lives other than their own.  Readers are observers, and will often see what non-readers overlook.

Did I mention that readers are observers?  Let’s have a little fun with that philosophy.

Well, that was pretty cool.  Let’s think about it.  Okay, now let’s do it, too!

Something happened in class a few minutes ago.  What was it all about?  Your powers of observation are connected to your ability to understand context, and to make connections.

  1. What liquid did the professor pour into that cup?
  2. Are you sure that’s what it was? Are you SURE?
  3. What is the name of the student on whose head the cup was overturned?
  4. What is the first thing the professor said, after turning the cup upside-down on the student’s head?
  5. Did the overturned cup contain water?
  6. What else was in the overturned cup?
  7. If the overturned cup contained plain water, what should have happened when the pencil pierced it and was then removed?
  8. What does the substance in the overturned cup have to do with anything else you have learned in this class?
  9. Will the substance in the cup remain like that forever?  How do you know?
  10. What did this science experiment have to do with an exercise in reading?

Now, take your sample home and see how observant your family might be.  Those who are readers will usually do better than those who don’t read as much.

Science and reading and connections, oh my. . . . .

 

My Time as a Teacher

I have a newfound respect for teachers and educators. Wow. On May 12th, I had my first solo experience in a classroom.

As a member of the Steve Spangler Science family for almost 5 years, I have helped perform science demonstrations on a few separate occasions. All of these were done with training and practice with Steve at the office. This time was different… I was on my own.

I’m recently married and blessed with two amazing step sons, the youngest in kindergarten. His teacher recently asked me if I’d like to help with their kindergarten & fourth grade science day, as she had purchased a substantial number of Steve Spangler Science kits. As if I could turn down an opportunity to play with science gear alongside six- and ten-year-olds.

Excitement filled me over the weekend. Quality time with my son coupled with awesome science and an opportunity to teach? Count me in, one hundred times. Monday morning, however, I felt like my kindergartner. Anxiety had coupled with excitement to create a concoction of nerves like I had never felt. Oh man… I was going to be teaching.

Arriving in the classroom saw my nerves spike to their zenith. All those tiny, little eyes fixated on me and my bag of science goodies. My face definitely flushed a bit, but it was broken by my son’s, “Hi, Dad!” I could do this. It’s just like coaching soccer!

The line-up of demonstrations the teacher and I had planned ranged from Insta-Snow (a HUGE hit) to Dancing Spaghetti, using both household items and Spangler-created kits, but we started with the Energy Stick. An eager volunteer hopped up in front of the classroom to help demonstrate the concept of an open or closed circuit. Eyes lit up and ears perked as the lights and sounds of the Energy Stick filled the classroom. I could TOTALLY do this.

(SIDE NOTE: A good friend’s son was in the 4th grade class. That night, she sent a text to tell me that her son wouldn’t stop talking about and designing open and closed circuits. Science success, I do declare.)

The Energy Stick led into polymer science: Insta-Worms, Insta-Snow, and Vanishing Jelly Marbles. The teacher read Diary of a Worm aloud to the class to help tie literature into the Insta-Worms demonstration. We discussed the ties between Insta-Snow and baby diapers, and we laughed at the squishy texture of Jelly Marbles. I didn’t have to worry about the occasional stutter or awkward pause. This group of kids stared and waited on my words like I was Neil deGrasse Tyson and they were a astrophysicist-filled lecture hall. Oh yeah… I was doing this.

We capped off the hands-on demos with candy science involving Gobstoppers and M&Ms, and the grand finale of Film Canister Explosions. I’ve seen and performed the Film Canister Explosion demo a bunch of times, for teachers and students. Never have I witnessed a reaction like this before. There were screams from some of the girls, “Awesome!” from a lot of the boys, and a massive gasp from the teacher. It was absolutely brilliant. Naturally, we did it twice more in the classroom, before finishing with a rocket launch in the rain. I did it!

Teachers! I get it. I understand exactly why you work for substantially less pay than you should. I know the feeling you get when a complex subject (i.e. carbon dioxide gas from vinegar and baking soda) clicks in a young mind. I can feel what makes you want to work extra hours on your evenings and weekends, just to make sure you can cover all you want to this year. I GET IT! You put so much out there, because you get so much back. It might not always be material, immediate, or it might not even be noticeable. It is, however, so worth it.